I would suppose that most people seeing the above headline-if they are moderately aware of the Arab-Israel forever war would assume I am writing about the Attacks on Israel from the West Bank and Gaza. I’m not. I’m talking about the Israel internal war and the on-going struggle with the Palestinians. The internal war is a cultural war and it is far more critical and dangerous for the survival of Israel as a Jewish state.
The Zionists, Jews who wanted a Jewish homeland, had no doubt in their minds what they ultimately envisioned- …a Jewish state. Having been painfully aware-at least in their minds – that ultimately there was no safe place for Jews anywhere in the world. The founders of Israel, the Zionists, were adamant that they wanted a Jewish state- a state of the Jews, for the Jews , and by the Jews, but as more waves of Jews arrived from all parts of the world, that clear cut vision has become watered down. Many Jews have arrived in Israel basically because they had no place else to go, or were made unwelcome where they were, and lived in countries in which Judaism was suppressed. In recent times Some came from European democratic countries, where the modern culture created a sort of civil religion, in which cultural Jewishness has become paramount over Judaism. From the beginning there was tension between those- the Zionists- who emphasized an Israeli nation, emphasizing Jewish nationality over those who emphasized a homeland for Jews based on Judaism. The gradations were many and intricate but the fissure remains immense- and I am over my head in explaining this. So perhaps one way to describe this is a personal example.
My father was an Ashkenazi Jew from Russia who immigrated to the US as a young person. He married my mom, a southern Baptist Christian and was totally secular. I knew nothing about his Jewish heritage, only his Russian. My mom told me dad was Jewish but in those days she might as well have said he was Nepalese. It meant nothing to me and my father never spoke of it. But in thinking about it in later years, my father fit the mold of a modern cultural Jew, except that out of the ordinary for most American Jews he was a career soldier, fought in WWI and served as an interrogator of German prisoners in Ft Stewart Georgia during World War II. Perhaps he hid his Jewish heritage because in those days being Jewish in the American army, especially as a combat enlisted man was very rare. ( The movie From Here to Eternity pretty well depicts that army)The Pre war WWII American army was a hard drinking, rowdy bunch. No love your neighbor classes back then and certain no woke foolishness.
He was very liberal in politics, having views on policies that were very leftist for that era.(Today, of course he would be aghast at with the “woke” movement and Marxist ideas prevalent among the elitist young.) When the Israeli state was proclaimed he was happy about it-and proud of the Israelis—but he made it clear he spoke as an American liberal not as a Jew.
So today what is happening in Israel is continuing drift toward a non religious state, still Jewish for sure, but less interested in Judaism as lodestar of Israel. Of course one will always point out- quite rightly-that the early Zionists were mostly more secular socialists and not disciples of Judaism. So they ask-why is new? Most obviously the early Jewish pioneer spirit has dissipated midst the good life enjoyed by most in Israel today. Some will dispute my following opinion- as almost anything one writes about Israel will be disputed by someone- but my reading of the history of Israel, its travails and endless wars against surrounding neighbors who want to destroy them, has convinced me -absolutely -that that the backbone of Israel’s survival has been the transcendental spirit of Judaism. The waves of immigrants coming into Israel, some with only faint ties to Judaism, is beginning to create a society, which in the turn of the century might might have been called a Canaanite state.( The term“Canaanite” is not to be confused with the modern witchcraft worship of Malloch here in the West) . The Canaanite were a Hebrew speaking people evicted or subsumed by the invading Israelites about 1250 BCE. Many of the existing Israeli culture of today dates from the Canaan era. The irony is of course that they were bitter enemies. No conflict isa as bitter as that of cousins- witness the Arab-Israeli conflict of today. In early 20th century there were scholarly discussion among Jewish scholars and clerics whether Palestine should be Jewish or Canaanite i.e. that it would become more Hebrew and less Jewish –a return to a Hebrew speaking Israel with semitic culture but not a religious Jewish state.This is best explained by one scholar this way.
“It is cultural-political movement of the “Young Hebrews” created by Yonatan Ratosh in the twentieth century. It looks at the case of Jews called “Canaanites” by their adversaries, who then retained the name as a self-designation. They considered themselves “Hebrews” rather than Jews, connected first and foremost with the land of Canaan/Israel, not with Judaism; and they wanted to go back to the original relationship between the ancient people of Israel, the land of Canaan, and the Hebrew language. As part of the revival of the Hebrew nation, “Canaanism” also aimed at the Hebraization of the entire Middle East.”
To understand the confusion one has to read “The Looming war over Israel’s Law of Return”by Rafa DeMogge at
It is a long and not so easy to understand, but it is critical defining who can come to Israel as a legal citizen under the law of return. It is all so murky that many are confused –but the bottom line is that more and more people living in Israel see it as simply another nation, a very industrious and special one, but not one in which rests the fate of Judaism as one of the world’s great religions.
Some scholars have defined Israel as a centrifugal society, likely to fly apart, but ironically they will say that this society is held together by the unceasing enmity of their Arab neighbors. As the saying goes, where there are three Jews there will be conflict, one left, one right, and one to conciliate.
As I see it the greatest internal threat to Israel is the “new American imperialism” in the form of the so-called woke cultural pestilence. Despite the fact that it is mostly a cultural phenomena, arising from a coddled, elitist Western youth, mostly ignorant but arrogant, , it, like marxism and fascism, can result in untold suffering for millions before it recedes. It has invaded Israeli society severely severely hampers the fight against terrorism in which every single day there is a terrorist act. Holding out the the hand with an olive branch will be bitten– as history keeps showing time and again.
Israel cannot afford the luxury of believing in the end of history,- a la Francis Fukuyama- the ultimate triumph of democracy and the creation of some leftist utopia is at hand. The mass “woke”stupidity politically and socially afflicting the United States can be tolerated for some period of time( not too much time) before the ship of America rights itself, but Israel does not enjoy that luxury. Their enemies are all around them and their Western “supporters” are feckless and irresolute.
I believe at one point in recent history, the Israelis came to believe that the external Islamic/Arab threat was contained, and that the West was their eternal friend and supporter. Nothing could be further from the truth. Safe within their borders ( whatever they are) they could then begin to squabble among themselves, locked into interminable cultural wars. Sad to say the only feature common to both extreme right and Left ideologies in the West is anti-semitism. Moreover The Arab/Islamic threat has not quieted. It has actually grown more virulent.
The Israelis, to survive, have to understand that they must be a fortress state, with resolute firm domestic unity. Camp David, Oslo peace, etc. plans are chimeras. Putting faith in them will validate the prediction of so many British and Arab historians, forecasting the ‘ultimate”demise of Israel. A view espoused by none other that the indomitable Arabist Freya Stark and many others in the Western governments.